Poole Alumna Anna Brown: Fulfilling a Passion to Serve
For Anna Brown (B.S., ’12), pursuing a major in human resources at the NC State University Poole College of Management was a smart move.
“My dad told me it was a good strong business degree and in all areas of business, you have to have the human resources aspect to it,” she explained in an interview for Curamericas Global, a Raleigh-based global nonprofit organization focused on establishing primary health care programs. The story of her volunteer work with the organization was shared with Poole College Communications as part of the organization’s celebration of National Nonprofit Day on August 17.
Brown would soon realize just how important the human aspect would become to her. Since graduating with her bachelor’s degree in human resources from NC State Poole College, she has been working in human resources positions, currently as talent acquisition coordinator for The Fresh Market.
She also makes time to volunteer with Curamericas Global, where her focus is on helping communities meet basic human needs.
Growing up in Greensboro, N.C., Brown attending Christ United Methodist Church, and at a young age, started going on the church’s mission trips, serving communities and meeting new people. When she was 16, Brown graduated to international trips. Her first was to Bolivia.
“I fell in love with the Latin culture; also, my eyes were opened to immense poverty,” she said. “I think I knew – halfway through my trip – (that) this is what I wanted to do with my life, and that it was my passion.”
Brown said she loved the Latin culture so much that she minored in Spanish in college and became fluent. However, after her second trip, the project in Bolivia had become sustainable. “It was amazing, but also sad for me, because they didn’t really need us to come back,” she recalled.
In 2016, Brown had a new calling to the mission field. Her church had deep ties to Curamericas Global, founded by longtime church member Dr. Henry Perry. Curamericas Global focuses on forgotten communities, where women and children die at alarming rates because they have no access to basic health care nor knowledge of simple practices, like hand washing.
“Curamericas knew how much our church had supported the mission, and Executive Director Andrew Herrera called looking for someone who could speak Spanish and attend a trip to the project site in Guatemala,” Brown said. The church volunteered her and she gladly accepted.
Brown’s first trip to Guatemala was unlike her previous mission trips, mostly because of Curamericas Global’s community-based approach to the people it was working with. “It wasn’t people coming in and telling others, ‘This is what we think you need to do’,” she said.
Instead, Brown explained, Curamericas built relationships with the community and asked, “What are your needs, what do you see working, what is the best way to approach this? We focused on their actual needs and not what we thought was best for them.”
Brown worked at Curamericas’ Casa Materna, a culturally adapted birthing facility that provides women with vital health services during pregnancy, delivery and after birth check-ups. The Casas are strategically built to provide access for multiple communities and, in order to ensure long-term sustainability, members of the community lead and facilitate operations there.
As Brown continues to work with Curamericas Global, she’s also focusing on other ways she can help serve her community, too. She’s currently working with two friends to start their own nonprofit that focuses on children in foster care.
“I just have such a passion for these children who are in need and hurting,” Brown said. “Being on these trips makes you realize how lucky we are to have access to health care, we don’t have to worry about something as minor as a cold turning into something devastating, and these communities do; it’s their reality.”
Since her first trip, Brown has organized and led two more trips to Curamericas’ project site in Guatemala, and she’s already planning another trip for next spring. “These trips are so important to me, I’m already counting down the days to the next one.”